By DAVE O’SULLIVAN
What started out as just a small idea for Atlantic County Institute of Technology girls basketball coach Jason Vander Ryk and some of his players has blossomed into what should be an exciting inaugural “Kiss Cancer Goodbye” showcase event on Saturday, Jan. 13. The one-day tournament, which ACIT has been planning since the end of last season, will feature five games, and a portion of money raised we go to St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital to help fund cancer research.
“Kayla Sykes’ mom, Lonniyell, her sister passed away from cancer. I had known that for a couple years, and Lonniyell had come up with the idea for raising money for cancer awareness. I thought it was a great idea,” Vander Ryk said. “I’ve lost my grandparents to cancer, my brother survived cancer. I think everybody knows somebody who has either passed away from cancer or survived cancer, and I just thought it was a great idea. It kind of started out as just a little bit of talk, but we kept moving forward with ideas and getting people and teams involved. I think it’s a great benefit for helping cancer research.
The tournament has drawn support from local businesses such as Glory Days Magazine, Laguna Grill & Rum Bar in Brigantine, Sugar Hill Subs in Mays Landing, Servicemaster Clean, Nino’s Pizza Festival, G&C Computer Services, WEHA radio and the DiNatale family. The slate of games begins at noon with Cumberland Regional vs. St. Joseph and finishes off at 7 p.m. with host ACIT taking on Atlantic Christian. Other games include Bridgeton vs. Hammonton at 1:30 p.m., Oakcrest vs. Winslow at 3, and Wildwood vs. Cedar Creek at 4:30 p.m.
“We started talking about this in April. The idea came at the end of last season, and what a great idea it would be. Every team involved is making a $100 donation to St. Jude’s for cancer research, so it’s not just ACIT. All the teams involved are part of this great cause,” Vander Ryk said. “We just wanted to get everybody in our building and have five great high school girls basketball games. I think high school basketball is really big in South Jersey, and I thought it would be a great idea to have this tournament on a Saturday and offer five games, and just get everybody in the building to watch some good, competitive games, but also for a great cause as well.”
Contact Dave O’Sullivan: firstname.lastname@example.org; on Twitter @GDsullysays